Among Philly kids, trauma and poverty are linked to mental illness, learning problems and more, Penn study finds

Undergoing traumatic experiences in childhood and growing up in poverty can impact brain development and lead to serious mental health problems, learning difficulties and earlier puberty than peers experience, according to a new study of Philadelphia youngsters.

Contrary to extolling the benefits of the school of hard knocks, researchers from Penn and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that children exposed to painful experiences and poverty can sustain deep and lasting damage. These children need help, they said.

The study was published recently in JAMA Psychiatry.